Khanya Kafile said she felt ‘honoured’ to be selected as a Miss/Mrs Africa UK finalist for 2020/21. The St Helier resident moved to Jersey from Port Elizabeth, South Africa, when she was 15.
The 34-year-old found out she was one of 14 finalists just before Christmas. The inaugural competition is unique, according to organisers, aiming to dispel stereotypes, empower women and give them a platform. It focuses on African women based in the UK, over the age of 30, and size, height or marital status do not count in the competition.
Khanya, who works in debt collection for the States, said: ‘It is an overwhelming feeling. When I entered I did not think I would get this far.
‘It is one of these things I never thought I would do – totally out of my comfort zone. I thought I would put myself out there.
She added that being selected as a finalist had given her ‘a platform for me to share my story’.
Khanya’s partner, Sisanda, passed away in May 2019 at the age of 34, while Khanya was pregnant.
‘I was left eight months pregnant with no partner,’ she said. ‘At that moment I had a strong feeling of ‘’Why me?’’ Everything was going perfectly and now all of a sudden the world was crumbling in front of my eyes.’
Khanya said she had had great support from her friends and family here in Jersey, and thought: ‘If I can go through this, I am sure someone else is going through the exact same thing. This campaign is me wanting to share my story and give women hope, who might have gone through the same thing or are going through the same right now. It is not the end.’
She now has an 18-month-old daughter called Iminathi.
‘Every day is a challenging day,’ she said. ‘But we are still here and she is happy and healthy. I wanted a platform where I could show myself, and my daughter that is growing, that I can do it.’
Applications for the programme started in June last year, and Khanya said the other finalists were ‘amazing women’.
‘It is about women empowering women, giving women a voice and showing what we can do,’ she said.
Due to the pandemic, much of the pageant and the selection process has had to be held virtually. She had a meeting with the other finalists on 30 January – a virtual pyjama party – where it was ‘good to see everybody’. There will also be virtual workshops.
Miss/Mrs Africa director Yanela Ntlauzana said the competition was about redefining the way beauty was often defined in beauty pageants.
The year 2021 marks 20 years since Khanya moved to Jersey. She is hoping that being given this voice will allow her to do something for the community.
As a finalist, Khanya is also looking for sponsors, whose names would appear online and in the grand finale brochure under her name. She said they were hoping for a grand finale some time in May.